My wife is worried about me. I’m a veteran and it’s Memorial Day. She took the kids to grandma’s house and left me at home with a bottle of bourbon. The thing is, we’ve been a country at war for twelve years. At this point, war is an assumed reality. We take it for granted; we push it to the periphery.
Perhaps you were born September 12, 2001 and this, this war on terrorism, is all that you know. But it’s not real, not for you. It’s nothing more than a list of dead men and women growing larger each day by the glowing light of Brian Williams, which you watch, streaming, on your iPad.
Perhaps you were born before September 12, 2001 and this, this war on terrorism, is not all you know. Memorial Day, for you, is a long weekend, a break, a day of rest from the grind that is your life. Even now, you’re reading this on your iPhone while flipping patties on your deck.
Perhaps, like me, you enlisted on September 12, 2001 and this, this war on terrorism, was fought out of a false sense of patriotism. You were angry, frustrated, and wanted to make someone pay the price. And then you pulled a trigger and realized how fucked up war is.
Perhaps it was your son or daughter that enlisted on September 12, 2001 and this, this war on terrorism, cannot be separated from your anguish. For their enlistment was their certain death.
Perhaps, even now, I am weeping for them and for you.
Today is a day to recall our internalized lament, to learn from it, and then to express it. Why? So that our daughters, now four, will not, come September 12, 2027, enlist in the United States Marine Corps in order to — in some twisted sense of justice — kill.
We all know, if only through six-degrees, someone who has died. Being a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I might know more than a few. Today, I’m thinking of Staff Sergeant Walker. He trained me, made me who I am, and taught me to act in the midst of fear.
It’s been twelve years and, oh, what we’ve lost — Americans, Iraqis, Afghanis.